TYPE SPECIMEN. DAVISON (William)
New Specimen of Cast-Metal Ornaments and Wood Types, Sold by W. Davison, Alnwick. Alnwick: W. Davison, c.1837
4to, 130ff. printed on wove paper on one side only, unpaginated and unsigned, title printed within a border made up of decorative units, presentation copy (see below), contains 1082 impressions of Bewick wood-engravings, stock cuts, metal ornaments, wood letters, ornamental borders, etc., numbered and priced, specimens 1061-1079 are absent as in all copies, 400 of the cuts are marked with a manuscript 'B', indicating that these cuts are by Bewick or come from his workshop, blank bottom right-hand margin of title page torn away and neatly repaired, cont. reversed calf, covers with blind tooled border, leather spine label, a nice copy.
Hugo, 298; Peter Isaac, Printing Historical Society facsimile, 1990.
An exceedingly rare and attractive specimen book of “double interest as an unusual example of the enterprise of a provincial printer and because of its Bewick association…” (Isaac). The first 50 or so cuts illustrate the Burns, Beattie, Blair, and Fergusson poetical works and Percy’s Hermit of Warworth; followed by many stock cuts for tea, tobacco, auctions, race cards, sailing ships, walking stallions, royal & Newcastle arms; then, as one would imagine, there is a long run of animal cuts for Buffon, natural histories and children’s books, all priced and numbered.
Hugo quotes a manuscript note on the fly-leaf of his copy of this book “W. Davison… stated to me that he had paid Thomas Bewick upwards of five hundred pounds for the various Woodcut Blocks, used in illustrating his publications. With a view to disposing of his Blocks, he struck off a very few copies of this Work, as specimens; but, changing his mind as to their disposal, he suppressed the Work, which is very scarce, in consequence of his using up the copies as waste”. However, Hugo then goes on to give his own views “A more correct account, I believe, is that the volume was done as an Advertisement for the sale of his stereotypes, of which he had several taken from most of the blocks, and not of the blocks themselves. Since his death many of his best blocks, which he hardly ever permitted to be used, have come into my possession, and the stereotype copies are widely diffused among printers in the North of England.”
With a presentation inscription on the title page from William Davison to William H. Angus, grandson of Thomas Angus, founder of the family publishing firm which was established in 1774. Thomas became a leading publisher of street literature and employed Thomas Bewick from 1774-1776. After his death in 1784, he was succeeded by his widow Margaret who issued “Specimens of Wood Engraving by Thomas and John Bewick” (Hugo, 4097) in 1798. By October 1800 she was trading as M. Angus & Son with Thomas Jr until his death in 1808, then with her second son George. She retired in December 1812 and George continued the business until 1825 when he was declared bankrupt and his stock was sold by auction.
This volume also bears the bookplate of Joseph George Angus, with a note in pencil “This volume was given by Mr. Davison to Wm. H. Angus and by him to Jos. Geo. Angus.” Tipped-in is a T.L.s from the librarian of Newcastle Public Library stating that their copy is also marked with the engraver's initial “exactly like your volume”.
(Stock Code: 27290)